Generally I avoid being the bearer of bad news (In ancient Rome you were killed for it). So I write this review unwillingly. We were invited by Taj Vivanta, Yeshwanthpur as part of the Bangalore CaL Bloggers table, for a night of drinks at Shimmer (their new lounge bar) and dinner at Azure (their Mediterranean restaurant). I had sampled the wares at Azure just a week before and was mighty pleased with the experience. Unfortunately this time the Food Gods did not shower their blessings on Azure. Forget shower – there wasn’t even a drizzle of benevolence.
The making of the Oliveto
The night started off in a raucous way with the rest of my flood blogger lovelies. We were enraptured by the shimmery lights in ahem…the quite aptly named Shimmer. The bartender was going to demonstrate the making of three cocktails and we could even participate in the making. The first cocktail was going to be the Oliveto – a combination of gin, egg white and olive oil. My first thought was – are they making mayonnaise?? After shrugging off the offending thoughts I tried the drink. The final drink tasted strangely of sweet lime juice! If they went through all this effort of emulsifying the olive oil and egg white – I would have expected a bolder flavor, not insipid musambi juice.
My lovely companions doubling up as bartenders
The Watermelon and Basil Bramble got my hopes up – this atleast had an ingredient base that I knew paired well already. Unfortunately the flabour balance was off here as well. The cocktail that one of us made behind the bar tasted way better than the one made by the bartender himself! The final cocktail was the Rosemary Delight. This had way too much rosemary and hence was not that delightful. Another things that got me a unsettled was the fact that we were invited for drinks but were made to pass around one or two glasses and ‘share’ amongst ourselves. Not that I mind sharing with my girls, but honestly – how much did the restaurant expect to save by scrimping on their drinks?!
I happily waltzed into Azure, all the way talking about the lovely Fig and Rosemary Foccacia that they serve. Absolutely delish the last time I ate it and I couldn’t wait to dip it into some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and make a meal out of it! We all sat down in a long table with some beautiful flower arrangements in the middle. I made a ‘Wah Taj!’ comment in my head and smiled to myself. The foccacia arrived and I chose to have a white wine to keep me company that evening. Unfortunately Natasha concluded that the wine was on its way to becoming vinegar – and I had to agree that maybe they could have put more care into the selection.
The Fig and Rosemary Foccacia
Brushing the unpleasant taste in my mouth I proceed to savour the Seafood broth. Perfectly cooked mussels and shrimp in a delicately flavoured broth. The others at the table had a lamb and leek bullion soup. Wonderfully presented and appreciated all round as well. The highlight of the day was the Plum tomato confit, artichoke and cured buffalo mozzarella with french dressing. Everyone at the table was gushing over the sublime taste of sweet and tart of the confit tomato. True perfection – I could kill for that recipe. The other salads included a Beef Carpaccio with Onion Jam and a Smoked Salmon Salad. I’ll say one thing – they got the plating right! Finally things were looking up…
L-R: Seafood broth, Lamb Dumpling Soup,
Confit of Tomato with cured Mozzarella, Smoked Salmon Salad and Beef Carpaccio
The usual suspects arrived – hummus, tahini and babganoush. None of them punched me in the face with their flavors, nor did they caress my taste buds into sweet submission. I expect that from a place that ‘specializes’ in Mediterranean food. Yes, I’m picky like that! The Shawarma and Falafel were palatable but so are the ones that you get in a small joint in Frazer Town. The Chicken liver on toast (in this case a beautifully made Brioche) would have ticked all boxes for me if they had saved the liver from being overcooked. No one like rubbery liver! Apparently the Jumbo Prawns suffered the same treatment as well. I actually saw Monika leave one on the plate! By this time, I was tapping my fingers on the table to alleviate the disappointment.
L-R: Shawarma, Hummus, Maqali, Veg Shawarma
Falafel, Grilled Prawns, Chicken liver on a Brioche, Panko Crusted Chicken
If the Taj had planned an elaborate roller coaster ride of good and bad for us then it was the turn of the Main Course to fulfill the ‘Good’ portion of the ride. But unfortunately this was a Bell Curve and everything went downhill from here. My Lamb chops were served with hummus and organic braised chicory. It was tough and chewey and the connective tissue was an unwanted meal companion. Another unwelcome guest who served no purpose was the half slice of cheese covering the lamb. (I suspect it was Amul cheese!) Don’t believe me ? – See the pic! My dinner companions who ordered the Tenderloin almost cried to send it away half eaten. No one wants to waste food, but how do you stomach ‘well done to death’ steak?
L-R: Tenderloin, Lamb Chops
My expectations had dropped to an all time low, but I still hoped for the desserts to redeem the meal. I had already tried the Baklava last time and was not happy with the fact that there were too few layers of phyllo pastry and too many nuts. Maybe some like it that way, but not me and I wouldn’t call it Baklava. So I opted for the safe choice – the Red Wine Gelato. The last time I ordered this – the flavors were flawless. So I was going to do Ok I convinced myself. After all – All’s well that ends well right? Wrong. The ice cream had had ice crystals in it this time. You are the TAJ – this is inexcusable.
L-R: Baklava, Red wine Gelato, Lava Cake
So in the end I left Azure feeling very disappointed and confused. How can you get something so right in one instance and get it so wrong the next? (See pictures of my meal earlier in the week at Azure – Batter fried Calamari, Syrian Lamb Dumplings in a Yoghurt Sauce and Seafood Paella. Everything that I ate left me smiling and hungry for more!)
I can only conclude that you can make good food (great food even), but if you are inconsistent then you turn away even your biggest fans. After all, people who get one night out in a week don’t want to squander it at a place where the food ‘might’ hit the right notes. Hoping Azure and Shimmer get their act together and lean in, to support the reputation of the Taj!
L-R: Seafood Paella, Syrian Lamb Dumplings, Batter Fried Calamari, Saffron rice
2275, Tumkur Road,
Cost: Rs.2000/- for a meal for two excluding taxes and alcohol
Parking: Valet Available